Have you seen “Beauty and the Beast” yet? I saw the film last weekend and it was spectacular.
The film, which opened a few weeks ago, is a remake of the 1991 Walt Disney animated “Beauty and the Beast.” I loved so many of Disney’s animated films from my own childhood — “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “The Jungle Book,” to name just a few.
When I saw “Beauty and the Beast” back in the early 1990s, it instantly became my favorite Disney movie.
I loved that Belle was smart, in addition to being beautiful. She was kind hearted, clever and not afraid to stand up for herself — all qualities as parents we try to instill in our children.
As an avid reader and lover of books, I loved seeing Belle’s passion for reading and learning — another great thing for children to see. Who doesn’t love a story that teaches children it matters much more about what is in a person’s heart and not what their appearance is like? How many times growing up did my mother say, “Beauty is as beauty does,” or “Inner beauty is what counts.”
I was surprised to learn the original tale was written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, and first published in 1740.
The story was later re-written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, who wrote the story in English as well as French. The version was a bit different than the one we all know and much more detailed. In the original story, a wealthy merchant had six children — three sons and three daughters. Belle was the youngest of the three daughters and the most beautiful. The older two sisters were jealous of their younger sister, who was also generous, well-read and especially kind to others.
The father ended up losing his fortune, forcing the family to move to a modest farmhouse where they had to work for a living. As with the more modern version, the father did indeed get lost in the woods during a storm and sought shelter in a castle he stumbled upon. The door opens and there is a table full of food — leading the father to think he was welcome. After eating and falling asleep for the night, the father wakes up in the morning to the frightening beast.
After some negotiating about his freedom with the beast, the father agrees to go home and send his youngest daughter back in his place. How would you like to get that news when your father returned home from a business trip?
Some historians say this is a story written to prepare young girls for arranged marriages — a thing that was definitely a thing wealthy families commonly did back in the day.
Belle travels to the castle, where the beast showers her with lavish gifts, clothes and jewelry. Although she was not mistreated, Belle becomes homesick and begs the beast to allow her to go home to visit her family.
The beast agrees to let her go home for a week and gives her a magic mirror so she can always see what is happening at the castle and a magic ring that would transport her there immediately.
Once home, Belle’s sisters are jealous of how many gifts the beast gave her, and didn’t want her to return to her lavish lifestyle.
The sisters pretended to want Belle to stay and not return to the beast, and when the week was up, Belle stayed one day longer. When she looked at the magic mirror, she saw the beast was dying from a broken heart since Belle had not returned.
Belle immediately used the magic ring to return to the beast and her tears fell on him as she told him she loved him. Instantly the spell was broken and the beast was transformed into a handsome prince. The two were married and lived happily ever after — always the best ending.
If you loved the animated “Beauty and the Beast,” you are sure to love the latest version. Emma Watson plays Belle and she is fantastic. I did read that young children might be scared, but I can assure you that the many quite young children in the theater with me were mesmerized and didn’t seem frightened at all.
In case you are wondering, Paul refused to go with me to the movie — but one of our young adult daughters did — it was the perfect mother/daughter outing.
South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.